New Cars Will Nickel-and-Dime You – It’s Automotive As A Service

Every few years, someone pushing a startup to investors comes up with an acronym or buzzword which rapidly becomes the new hotness in those circles. One of the most pernicious is “as a Service,” which takes regular things and finds a way to charge you a regular fee to use them.

Automotive companies just absolutely loved the sound of this, and the industry is rapidly moving to implement subscription services across the board. Even if there’s hardware in your car for a given feature, you might find you now need to pay a monthly fee to use it. Let’s explore how this came about, and talk about which cars are affected. You might be surprised to find yours already on the list.

Subscription Required

Many cars now come with smartphone apps full of additional features. Credit: Audi

A long time ago, before the world went mad, you could option out your car with all kinds of nice equipment when you ordered it from the dealership. You’d pay a bit extra, of course, but some nice people at the factory would bolt in the extra gear, and you’d enjoy the extra nice little touches that you’d paid for.

It was a simple system, and it made sense. Things like heated seats or stereo upgrades really needed to be installed at the factory; going back to the dealer later for more upgrades would be complicated and a relatively unattractive option.

These days, many cars are connected to the Internet around the clock via their own built-in cellular modules. These serve all kinds of purposes, from safety monitoring to allowing the automaker to roll out software updates as needed over the air.

However, this connectivity also created a new opportunity. Automakers could now remotely turn features in the car on and off from the comfort of their ivory towers. Thus was born a new opportunity for monetization. Pay the car company a toll, else you can’t have nice things.

It’s Already Happening

Toyota has already implemented subscription services in many of its vehicles. Credit: via Toyota

This may sound like a problem brewing for the future, but sadly it is already very much our present reality. The big breakout story this year has been that many customers have not realized that they’re already driving cars subject to subscription-only features.

As reported by The Drive, many Toyota customers have only just realised that the key fob remote start feature in their vehicles is only enabled if they maintain a subscription to Toyota’s Connected Services. The issue has been masked thus far, as it only effects cars built from 2018 onwards, and Toyota provides most drivers with a free 3-year subscription, extended to 10 years for those that spring for the Premium Audio package.

However, after that period is over, if no ongoing subscription is paid for,  the car’s remote start feature will cease to work. It matters not that the key fob and the vehicle can still communicate fine, nor that all the hardware is still in place. The feature will cease to work unless the fees are paid.

Obviously, there’s an argument to be made that automakers should be able to cover ongoing costs of maintaining cellular connections to vehicles. For things like remote start apps using the Internet, and other cellular-enabled features, it’s understandable why fees would be required. However, in this case, key fob remote start requires no cellular connection at all. Thus, charging a fee for this feature is solely a revenue-generating measure. Amazingly, Toyota have begun “reviewing” the situation after blowback received when the story broke.

Interestingly, some Toyota models built prior to November 12, 2018, can no longer maintain a cellular connection in the United States due to pending 3G network shutdowns. In these cases, Toyota has “enhanced” the vehicles to no longer require a cellular subscription for the remote keyfob start feature. It’s unsurprising, as Toyota no longer has a way to communicate subscription status with these cars now offline. It’s a goodwill move; Toyota could have just as easily done nothing as the cars fell off the network, and let the feature die forever.

A Widespread Problem

Full-travel rear-wheel steering requires a subscription in the new Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4MATIC+. Credit: Mercedes-Benz

The problem isn’t unique to Toyota, though. Tesla have been particularly keen on similar antics, famously disabling features on a used car that the previous owner already paid for. In this case, the features weren’t even subscription based, but subject to a one-time payment. Tesla cared not, and disabled the features anyway. This left the new owner of the used car significantly out of pocket, as they had paid for a car advertised as having certain features that evaporated once they took ownership.

Luxury brands have jumped on the bandwagon, too. The new EQS luxury electric sedan from Mercedes-Benz comes with rear-wheel steering. However, it’ll only steer up to 4.5 degrees unless you pony up some extra cash. As reported by Autoblog, if you want the full ten degrees of operation from the system, you’ll have to pay an annual fee of €489 euros. The hardware to do the full level of steering is in every car; Mercedes has just decided that for the German market at least, you’ll have to pay extra to get the most out of it.

BMW and Audi are getting involved too with their own takes on functions-on-demand. BMW are trialling an annual fee system for remote start and a integrated dash camera, while also contemplating asking drivers to regularly fork out for simple things like heated seats and steering wheels that are already built into the car. Audi, meanwhile, will offer higher-speed data connections as well as improved vehicle lighting operation for those who sign up for a regular payment.

Many other automakers are already running subscription services, too. Whether its for navigation system updates and traffic information, or for driver assist systems like GM’s Super Cruise, they’re all out there tying vehicle functionality to a regular monthly fee.

Outside of automakers, even accessory companies are keen to get a regular dollars flowing in. In perhaps the most horrifying example, the Klim motorcycle safety airbag system will not inflate in a crash unless owners are paid up on their subscription. Gut-wrenching stuff.

The Why

Volkswagen’s Car-Net system requires a monthly subscription fee to enable certain features like live traffic updates, but is usually granted free for the first five years of vehicle ownership. Credit: Volkswagen

It’s not difficult to understand why this came about. From a business perspective, finding a way to get regular money flowing out of existing customers is a hugely-attractive proposition. Rather than seeing a customer once every few years when they buy a new car, and hoping they stay faithful, instead, that person can contribute each month to the company’s bottom line. If a car is owned long enough, too, the sum of the subscription fees could far exceed what the company would have originally charged for the option to be installed in the first place.

Automakers will argue that what they’re offering is flexibility. Customers will only have to pay for what they want and need, and they can purchase extra features as and when they want to use them.

However, what they’re also introducing is annoyance. The late Internet era has already weighed down the average person with a huge number of recurring credit card payments, for everything from phone plans to streaming services. Adding on yet another isn’t helping anyone, and is costing consumers more money.

Even worse, it complicates things for used buyers. Test drive a car, and it might have all the bells and whistles -until you sign it into your name and log in to the infotainment system. Then suddenly you’re getting slugged each month with an additional cost on top of the loan repayments just to keep the seats warm. It’s enough to give anyone a headache.

There’s also the spectre of a car losing its features for good once connected services are turned off. Whether it’s older cellular networks being shut down or a company going out of business in a given country, it matters not. Without a regular signal from the mothership, the features disappear. Some, like Toyota, may elect to unlock features in cars in these situations, but there are absolutely no guarantees.

The idea of features-on-demand seems to be very much slanted in favor of the automakers. The industry seeks to gain a whole new income stream at the cost of much consumer frustration. On the other hand, if people can force Toyota to stand down on the keyfobs, maybe we can do it with the other automakers as well.

Whether a consumer movement is successful or not, one suspects that a cottage industry of crackers may spring up to unlock features without paying onerous ongoing fees. We can all look forward to grooving to the cracktros while we unlock the Advanced Windscreen Wiper package for winter, at the cost of occasionally bricking the car with a bad patch. Come what may.

229 thoughts on “New Cars Will Nickel-and-Dime You – It’s Automotive As A Service

    1. My 2018 Toyota came with a built in GPS and outdated 2016 maps. Toyota offers “free” map updates during the 3 year warranty period, however, no updates were ever provided. The nail in the coffin for me was that Toyota offered to update the maps if I paid $300.

      No thanks, FU Toyota, I will buy a $300 standalone GPS with lifetime free map updates before I give you any more money.

    2. In the ranching world, we put the bulls out to service the cattle — so, yes (Reality+Bites), your observation is accurate.

      It isn’t limited to the automotive world, its happening everywhere, and its arguably conditioning people to accept that they don’t permanently own the things they pay for.

  1. Owning a Toyota, I found the system (3g connect) going away, and the annual charge changed to monthly due to Toyota not knowing exactly when it would go away. I’m pleased to not had remote start.

  2. my 2016GMC has lost features already. Some were subscription (which I refused from the start-$30/mo for remote start? $50 for GPS? Come on….) and becoming unavailable, but other possibilities worry me. I’ve had to have remote service reset the power windows – real fun coming out of a toll booth when the window goes part way up, reverses all the way open, and an error code sticks on the dash display. I’ve also had to have a reset for the audio– ahem, infotainment- system. I should imagine a dealer could do these, as well, for a price, of course.

    1. If this were truly “hardware as a service” then it would truly be useful. For example, I live in Australia where hitting a kangaroo can wipe out the front end of your car. If I were driving along at 100km/h and there were a lot of kangaroos around I could quickly pay for a bull-bar as a service.

      1. That would be pretty much the same as buying a bull-bar and insuring it, just packaged as a service.

        How often do you actually hit a kangaroo, and need to replace the null-bar? How expensive is a bull-bar?

        My general rule is that I don’t insure something if I could easily afford to pay for it myself. My phone is not insured, my health is. My old car only had the mandated insurance for legal liability.

  3. Nope…I’m not going to play by these rules. I was fortunate to have family members who taught me in the ways of old-school repairs, rebuilds, and maintenance. Our main driver cross-country traveler is a 1989 Buick Electra with te 3.8L V6 all original. My goal is to make it last longer than me. Worst case scenario I’ll be getting some old air-cooled VWs on the road and use a gasifier if I have to.

      1. The onus shouldn’t just be on us as individuals – it would be nice if the car makers met us half way at least. If the manufacturers made it attractive enough to buy a new, more environmentally-friendly vehicle I would.

        As things stand, however – cars full of un-necessary electronic crap, connected to the internet 24/7, plus now this outrageous nonsense forcing you to pay extra to use stuff you already own, etc. – there is little incentive for me to part with my 15 year old Mercedes diesel.

          1. Anothe suggested, that discontenting the antenna my void the warranty. In htat event fabricating a tight metal cover, may do the job. Eho knows, a vehicle may be programmed, to shut down, if looses cantact with mom? In the event that’s the case, hopefully, that would happen, when it’s motionless.

      2. When the government starts targeting the airlines, military, ships, and agricultural equipment – then I’ll care more about gross polluters. I’d rather have a cheap polluter than some tree-hugmobile that goes obsolete in 5 years and makes me go broke trying to fix mistakes that were already solved years ago.

        1. Why? What’s the point? Nebraska is all farmland, no places worth visiting. EV is a fine option if you live in a civilized place that actually has mountains and beaches and cities. We don’t have to solve this problem for 100% of use cases, the city is where the pollution and congestion problems are.

          1. I was actually pleasantly surprised when I traveled through Nebraska on a cross country road trip earlier this year. Farmland can be quite pretty once you get off the freeways. You should check it out.

          2. Dismissing logistical issues specific to Middle America (& essentially any of the vast ares of the US that are rural & flat) being able to embrace new tech based solely on the merits of not having a, varied/scenic landscape wholly negates any *actually* salient points you might have accompanying that utterly asinine notion of yours.

      3. Bull

        That car has oxygen sensors and fuel injection. Only NOX is lower in modern cars.

        Now my 1960 Chrysler with a 383HD, 6mpg. That’s a serious polluter. Turns more heads than any Italian trash. Will outlast you, kid.

        Also ‘Forward Look’. Right out of the Jetsons. Rolling work of art.

      4. If they like the car with all its features an EV retrofit would be better than buying a whole new car. There’s a cottage industry converting classic cars here in the UK, usually with the guts of a Leaf as that’s the cheapest and best understood. Me, I’m buying one of the rare simple EVs in the world, a glorified golf cart.

        1. Carbon neutral sources. (We get choice of supplier here. I picked one that sources all the power it sells from carbon neutral sources).. Given where I live, most is hydro sourced, nukes in second place, with solar and wind slowly gaining share. (They are finally getting to build some offshore wind, was nimby’d for around a decade)

          Right now in the US, carbon neutral sources now have a bigger share than coal. Existing coal plants are getting converted to natural gas turbine fired as fast as the power companies can get hold of the hardware to do so. (Burn the gas in a gas turbine which is driving a generator, and use the turbine exhaust to boil the water in place of coal. It can cut a carbon footprint of a plant in half). As far as new construction, wind has the lowest cost per MWh to build and operate. In some areas (the US Northeast) all the coal plants have been converted or shut down

          When my wife’s estate finishes with probate, I plan to add a solar array to the roof.

          1. “Choice of Supplier” Ha. It’s really choice of who you’re paying. They all put their electricity into the same power system. Same deal with gasoline. In the USA 95% of the pipelines are common carrier. All the oil companies make two grades of gasoline that are exactly the same and most of it goes into those pipelines. What makes one brand different from another are the additives that get mixed in at the pipeline terminals as the fuel is pumped into tanker trucks for delivery.

            It takes two weeks for products refined in Texas coastal refineries to get to New York by pipeline yet a Conoco refinery can put 10,000 gallons in and tanker trucks in New York can take out 10,000 gallons the same day and send the $ to Conoco – but the fuel they take out could be made by any refinery putting fuel into the lines. Most of the time the only thing that makes Conoco (or any other brand) of gasoline that brand is the additive package.

            When they first started to send more than one product down pipelines they used traveling plugs called pigs to keep the products from mixing. Then it was found that despite moving a thousand miles there’s very little mixing, especially when there’s a larger density difference. At the terminals they tap out the various products and what’s mixed up (it’s called transmix) gets taken back to refineries or sold to turbine powered powerplants which can burn just about any liquid fuel that can be sprayed into a fine mist.

            So when a gas station gets a bad batch of fuel they can’t just call up the company they’re a franchise of to complain – the real source has to be tracked by the time it was tapped from the line. One problem cause could be someone at a line terminal getting the timing off and ending up with a bunch of diesel (or something else) mixed into a truckload of gasoline. I got a bad tankful once that destroyed the electric fuel pump in a car (those in-tank pumps never fail when the tank is empty) and my snow blower wouldn’t run on the same gasoline I’d put into a gas can. I poured a sample into an empty soup can and it took a lot to get it to light, then it fitfully burned with a dark orange and sooty flame. It sure wasn’t gasoline! I heard of several other people in town who had to replace fuel pumps, but the gas station wouldn’t do anything about their bad fuel. I bet they did demand a refund from their supplier!

        2. I don’t understand this point at all. The question should be what’s the CO2e of a mile from an ICE car vs an electric car? Consider as well that at least here in the UK the grid is decarbonising so that the CO2e per mile will decrease over time for electric in a way that it never will for an ICE.

          I mean, there are questions surrounding the lifetime CO2e cost of EVs, but I don’t think the carbon cost of the electricity used to charge them is a good one.

      5. Penny wise pound foolish regulation of emissions like this is pure shenanigans. Run one container ship cleanly and it’ll outweigh the vanishingly few people willing to wrench an 80’s Buick onto the road daily into the 20’s.

        Also the deafness to why the EV option is currently unattractive… Did you read the article before coming to the comments? Not trying to rile you up, but your boilerplate response is very tone-deaf to the article and the entire discussion taking place here.

        A more thought out response would’ve involved something about EV conversions and how to sidestep the issues, instead of you basically saying just buy one no matter how bad the issues the article discussed are.

        Honestly I’m mostly just annoyed because your expressed concern about emissions doesn’t motivate you to think hard enough about them. If they did you’d have entered the discussion in a collaborative manner instead of combative.

        1. What I want to see is a cold accounting of all carbon output for a 6 year life span from the ground to eol of a fuel burning vehicle versus an ev…from that required to pull the coal, ores and oil out of ground through refinement, manufacture, fuels required and disposal or reclamation of materials with a side bar of all the hazardous byproducts…the total picture of exactly how much pollution is created just to avoid having a life that is majorly constrained by the phrase walking distance… main interest is in the inefficiency of energy state changes to power an ev…the whole coal changes to steam to mechanical energy to AC electricity transformed to transmission voltages distributed then transformed to usable voltages then converted to DC current flow then stored as chemical energy then back to DC current then to mechanical energy process….with losses at every step…versus…chemical to mechanical

      6. Lol you just totally ignored the whole point he was making. Yeah sure it pollutes more but having to buy a new car every 3 years because it’s a cheap POS and paying a sub to operate features that are build into the car but turned off I would argue is more polluting .

      7. No. If somebody plays that subscription games, then the end result can be just that. With the nice side effect of making the climate hysterics a “favor”.
        I would like to have an electric car with sufficient range (>=500km) and NO “connected” or subscription stuff.
        And trains? No, my destination of travel rarely is situated at a train station.

    1. Honestly the 90s and early 2000s were peak automobile. Just enough electronic crap to give you some creature comforts, but easy to disable when you get tired of fixing it. Same can be said for the engines, I really see what the boomers meant about carbs now. Can’t wait for congress to legislate the ICE to death, you know, for global warming or some such thing.

        1. Actually, as a person driving 2 cars. one from 98 and another one from 04 in a region where copious amounts of road salt is used every winter, i can say that corrosion issues havent risen with my swedish made cars. You get what you pay for. Compared to cars made in the 80´s to early 90´s the corrosion problem is pretty much gone. I cant imagine living close to the sea would expose the cars to more salt corrosion than road salts.

      1. My 2001 Chevy Tahoe has a computer-controlled climate control system (heating and cooling) and . . . I’ve had some times when I want to do something but the controlling computer won’t LET me. Run the AC for dehumidification in a wet winter? Silly human, you don’t need AC when it’s cold out! Want to bring in outside air to replace humid interior air? Silly human, you don’t want to bring in cold outside air!

        It makes me want to pull out the control system and install one that listens to me as though I were the owner and user.

        It also makes me somewhere between leery and fearful about how much a modern car would ignore my wishes.

        1. Interestingly my 2002 Z71 Tahoe doesn’t have computer climate. Just a rheostat mapped one to one with the blend air door. You can do pretty much whatever. No traction control either which I love in the snow… Did a sick burn out the other day.

          The 4wd is epic though. Easily outperforms my brother’s AWD Toyota. A lot of that is the design of the suspension and ground clearance, etc. Idk driving in the snow your brakes only work so well. I think 2wd is better in that case as it’s better to have more braking ability than accelerating ability in general.

          Reminds me of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance in some sense. I’d rather know how my vehicle works and know how it will react then constantly be surprised by the computer algorithm making strange decisions. And I write somewhere for a living! I’m well aware of the failure modes of software. ABS is a nice feature though as it’s uncomplicated.

    2. Just wait for your government to implement a licence plate scanning system and fine you automatically when you try to access a town or something with your 3.8L V6 environmental disaster :-)

        1. Generally yeah because jumping 20 years in ICE cars doesn’t cut your emissions per mile much so you need to drive longer than the lifespan of the car to make up the manufacturing costs. EVs change that if your grid is clean enough, I regularly see 20g of co2 per kwh on windy nights making an EV 30x less co2-emitting per mile than an efficient petrol car.

          Manufacturing’s another matter. Before someone links Volvo’s report remember to read it for key values like co2 emitted during battery construction or grid co2 per kwh, I didn’t spot those but their absence makes the conclusion questionable.

          1. And coming from a website about solar energy, No conflict of interest there hay!

            The summary can’t be taken as true as it does not make any mention of the power source for the EV.

            My equally stupid claim is that an ICE is far more environmentally friendly … without stating the condition that you don’t put fuel in it.

            An EV definitely is NOT more environmentally friendly if you power it from coal fired electricity generators.

            Now, I am not anti-EV, clearly they will play a role on the future as they have the POTENTIAL to be far more environmentally friendly when they use renewable energies however I have to dismiss the claims made by this website as they are clearly biased if not deceptive.

          2. I agree that the website is bias, the website continuously states that it is bias, and wants everyone to install solar (and they provide a quote service). However, here they are talking about EVs, so not a direct conflict of interest.

            They actually state, that if you have the money for an EV and don’t have solar panels, take the money extra money an EV costs, spend it on solar panels. You’ll save more money, and you also save more CO2. (This is them being straight to the point with the conflict of interest)

            That being said, here’s some stats (again from the article, Myth #2) about CO2 emissions for ICE vs EV, when EV is charged from a heavily brown coal state of Australia (Victoria)

            EV: …. This gives an average of 150 grams of CO2 per km for an electric vehicle charged from the Victorian grid.

            ICE: …. This comes to an average of 286 grams of CO2 per km.

            The average km driven by a car in Australia is 12,000km per annum.

            Footnotes provide some further information on figures, along with links in the article to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

            Note: Australia is fast turning to a 100% renewable grid, with South Australia having some of the cheapest power in Australia, along with at times running from 100% solar & wind. It also had one of the largest battery installs in the world until recently.

            By the way, I am also not pro EV, I just read the article, and thought it was one of the most fact filled along with helpful graphs that I have read on this topic.

          3. Do they mention the environmental cost of mining and refining the Lithium and other materials used in the battery?

            A while back there was a “fact” going around that a lawnmower or scooter somehow pollutes as much as 8 to 12 cars, varying by whomever was touting it. That would be physically impossible because they simply don’t burn as much fuel as any single car, let alone 8 or more.

          4. Although they do mention the emissions produced for the manufacture of the battery, they don’t include a mention of the environmental costs of mining the battery materials.

            That being said, various countries are better then others. As an example, Australia is the largest exporters of high quality lithium.

            But there are also other countries on the list with lower environmental requirements, and one of them with a very poor record of lithium mining disasters being China itself.

            However, I wouldn’t say that oil has a particularly good history with environmental disasters either.

            In the end, I think we will need to aim for a cyclical battery economy to minimise the environmental damage of mining. Both of the lithium, but also of other rarer materials. Further research areas for efficient recycling… Surely the holy grail, a fully efficient Battery recycling, along with 100% cheap renewable energy. Low cost and efficient transport with low long term environmental impact.

          5. Summary in this case is bogus. Absolutely no way to manufacture EV´s without spewing out enough pollutants to far exceed the minor pollutants produced by a ICE car run for 20 years, provided the car is serviced and maintaned.

      1. You have to ask yourself one question:

        Is blindly pandering to the desires of a car manufacturing company which doesn’t give a sh.t about the environment going to be better or worse for the environment.

      2. No-one has yet brought up (that ive seen, anyway) that WE CAN CLOSE THE CARBON LOOP WITH SOLAR SYNTHETIC KEROSENE to buy time to develop the electric grid and battery infrastructure  … but zero out pollution from diesels and jets by making them *functionally* electric AND carbon capture  … *immediately *!

        We can make kerosene (diesel and jet fuel) from CO2 in seawater!

        Thus diesels and jets are *functionally* solar powered USING EXISTING ENGINES with “liquid sunshine” in the form of synthetic kerosene made by extracting carbon from the ocean with solar power AND we reduce the acidification of the ocean thereby helping save the phytoplankton that make 70% of the oxygen of earth!

        In *2014* :

        “Using a proprietary electrochemical device, researchers were able to pull carbon dioxide from the water, get hydrogen as a byproduct, and then bounce the two gases off each other to manufacture the liquid fuel. The scientists say they can pull about 97 percent of the dissolved carbon dioxide from the water and convert about 60 percent of the extracted gases into hydrocarbons that can be made into fuel at the cost of approximately $3 to $6 per gallon. The low end is equivalent to today’s jet fuel costs, while the high end would be double the price. The fuel could be commercially viable in 10 years.

        Also in:

    3. > Our main driver cross-country traveler is a 1989 Buick Electra

      I would definitely put a good alarm and brake lock into that car as it is worth keeping.

      I was never really into Chevy after they introduced the CCC and I had to return a brand new 1981 Camaro disaster, replaced by a used 1980 X-11 Citation … BUT, I would 100% take your 1989 over a new Honda, Ford, or Chevy. Though if you think putting a water pump INSIDE the engine where it can leak into the engine oil and nuke the engine is a good thing, Ford has a 3.5L twin turbo direct injection engine for many current models.

      I took mercy on one guy and fixed his wacked sliding sunroof on his late model Silverado that no one could fix to get it to shut all the way, including the dealership which wanted to charge him $1000+ to put in a new unit. After I fixed it for $0 in parts, you know what he told me? Open the headliner back up and disconnect the harness, I never want the $%#^ thing to open ever again :-D

    4. The only issue I have with older cars is the incredible advances in passenger safety modern cars have — and I like old cars.

      In a modern car you can walk away from the same crash that would seriously hurt or kill you in a 20 year old car. You can find a modern vehicle (new or used) that’s easy and cheap to maintain/repair, is safe, and that lacks all the “new car” bullshit. Yes, you’ll need to learn new skills and buy some modern tools as you go: but that’s been “working on cars” since the model T.

      My advice: look at the “base” trim Japanese models. They tend to be affordable, reliable as hell, easy to work on, and meet or exceed modern safety standards.

  4. “Revenue-generating measure”? I think you misspelled “bold-faced theft”. “The industry seeks to gain a whole new income stream at the cost of much consumer frustration”? I would have written that as “Car makers seek to make ownership obsolete and force everyone into a rental-only market at the cost of consumer autonomy”. If you had phrased it that way, then it would have been clearer what’s really at stake – namely, the market for entire _cars_ might become a rental-only proposition. Chilling? You bet. But think about it – if the whole inconvenient second-hand market just disappeared, wouldn’t that be the ultimate and perpetual “whole new income stream”? And none of that looted money will be streaming towards customers – or should I say “serfs”?

    I understand the responsibility of Hackaday writers and editors to keep inflammatory expression in check. But really, casting this matter in terms of “new revenue streams” and “consumer frustration” is praising with faint damns. I think Hackaday landed on the wrong side of the condemnatory line here – the loud, indignant, and decidedly NOT conciliatory condemnation of these schemes is the duty of everyone who cares about personal freedom and would defend it.

    1. You nailed it. What happens to capitalism, if no one is allowed to OWN anything, except for a few powerful interests? And that’s what this is, an increasingly bold attempt to usurp the right of the common citizen to OWN things. This cancerous idea started with DRM’d printer ink, which should have been shot down on the spot, but it’s been allowed to fester and has now gotten way out of hand. People get all riled up at the idea of government taking all their money and dictating what they can and can’t do, but somehow corporations get a free pass to do this very same thing? This must not stand.

      1. >What happens to capitalism, if no one is allowed to OWN anything, except for a few powerful interests?
        we’ve had that, it’s called feudalism. this time the landlords and barons are going to wear suits and ties

  5. As someone who is living in a developing country, I’m more and more curious the future of the cars. Most people cannot afford a new car here, we import 10-15 year old used cars from richer countries. How will these cars look like when they get old enough for us to buy?

    1. That’s a good question. Unfortunately, it may be that your future cars will have useful or important features only available by subscription or disabled entirely. That’s not right and it’s not fair, but it might happen.

      But you’re here reading Hackaday, so maybe you’re a hacker, too. And maybe you’ll be someone who hacks those future cars so the features work again without subscriptions, or you might re-enable those features that were permanently disabled. And maybe you’ll make life better for people in your country, maybe you’ll teach others how to hack and repair and improve many different kinds of machines and services. And together you will make the world better than it is today.

      That’s what we’re all here for, and it’s a good purpose – make life better for everyone.

      Hack the planet!

      1. I have faith in the very resourceful hackers and pirates that will hack and generate cracks for the pay to use features in cars. Lets not forget that these features have to be available in an emergency, just like calling 112 or 911 works even without a sim in the phone.

        1. I also have faith in the hackers, but let’s not go too far implying the emergency call precedent. I’m pretty sure that’s enforced by laws. Meanwhile the oldest car subscription service I know of is OnStar, which states mostly as a subscription “crash response/we’ll call emergency services for you” feature. It very much stops working if you stop paying, even though there’s a cellular modem in there. Meanwhile, my ’18 Subaru factory equipped with their equivalent system (an SOS button and crash detection that phones home) won’t call for me because I didn’t pay for it past the first year. Yet I’m pretty sure it actually made me agree that they would send data home to Subaru regardless for improving their computer vision driver assist, etc. (Improvements I’ll only see if I buy a new car, it still regularly thinks I’m going to crash into a cloud of condensation in the winter)

          Interestingly, I got the impression from the paperwork that it might actually be using satellite, not cell, for upstream telematics, at least the non-audio content.

    2. Basically, you will be up a creek without a paddle, so to speak. USA Federal law requires OEMs to provide parts for 15 years. Even if said parts being sold are being marked up at least 20x what they cost going into the vehicle. Once the OEM stops making the smart components, you are left only with used parts. Taking apart the code in a 1980s-1990s vehicle to make a new EPROM is totally different then what would be required to duplicate a modern brain box.

      Unlike GM, Ford has been pretty solid on building long lasting brain boxes (12A650) and the wiring harnesses are not total low cost junk (aka Passlock in GM) prone to failure, but, they all have obsolescence built in. The door panel on my wife’s 2013 Ford Hybrid where the handle attaches costs $400+ USA, if or when that 2013 car hits your country in 2028 or 2033, do you think Ford is going to gift you a free CPU or sell it at cost?

      Though you might be able to fix the CVT properly and cheaply in 2028, good luck on getting Ford to provide the code to take into account any mods you had to do to fix it. Right now they keep trying to hit us up for $200 to update the infotainment system to the latest maps, which happens to run many things including the back up camera.

      No, the 3rd world will just become a literal dumping ground, like the Philippines, though instead they will be garbage cars instead of UK ships full of it.

      I know it is too much to ask for in our actor based reality, but, “poorer” countries run by true patriots, should take 20 year old designs, past any patent protection, reverse engineer them, and produce them, bumper to bumper, within their own borders so they are not at the mercy of any other country. Even if it means importing the steel to do it.

          1. Forever? Really? No, not really. A friend tried updating a GPS unit from around 2012, for which he was promised lifetime free updates, only to get “this model is no longer supported”.

          2. The Garmin GPS receivers with “lifetime” updates can become unsupported when they pad out the size of the map data to be too large for the internal storage and/or an SD card. There are a lot of older GPS units that can only support up to 2 gig SD cards. BUT if you can find one of the 4 gig SDSC card that were made for a very brief time (IIRC one year or less) before SDHC hit the scene, most GPS (and other) devices can use them to access 4 gigs of storage.

            The block size of a 4 gig SDSC card is double that of a 2 gig so those cards work best for larger files, which happens to be what GPS map data is.

            The whole of USA data from Open Street Map can be converted and stripped to the essentials to fit a 4 gig card for Garmins. If you’re limited to 2 gig then you can only fit half the USA on it. Not a problem if you stay in one half of the country.

            It would be nice if some company would run off a fresh batch of 4 gig SDSC cards. But to get that done someone would have to pay the full cost up front, if a manufacturer could be found to make them. 4 gig SDSC was never an approved standard, its production forced the development of SDHC and it’s breaking of backwards compatibility with nearly all SD card using devices at the time. See the old GPX MW3836 MP3 player that was introduced when 1 gig SD cards were the hot thing, yet it works with SDHC and SDXC cards, I assume by using the 1 bit serial mode.

            4 gig SDSC cards are next to impossible to find. Google and other search engines will assume you’re stupid and “correct” your searches to 4 gig SDHC. So will eBay. I bought a couple of 4 gig cards from someone on eBay that claimed they were SDSC (after digging through a kajillion listings) but they were in fact SDHC.

    3. You can get used cars made in Brazil and India. The little Ford Ranger pickup has been made in Brazil all along. Does anyone ever sell a Toyota Hilux (which we have never been able to get in the US Grrrr.). I think Mahindra in India still makes old-school Jeeps, Land Rovers, and Suzuki’s. The old Land Rover is still made in New Zealand. (Hint: Don’t buy old Russian cars before you watch some Russians dash cam. The way they can roll over while practically standing still is amazing.)

      1. Mahindra tried to sell their Roxor here in the US as a side-by-side off road only utility vehicle for a couple years, until they got sued by Chrysler. It was too similar to the old CJ Jeeps, a model Chrysler (Well, AMC at the time) hasn’t sold in about 50 years. They have redesigned the Roxor and it’s coming back next year. They can be registered (well, the old Roxor, we’ll see if the new one is) and road legal in some states with the proper modifications (lights, etc.) and title work.

        1. Mahindra has changed the grille and that’s pretty much it. Anyone looking at the Roxor will get a “That looks like an old Jeep.” feeling. Without drastic measures the Roxor (at least the first model) can be made to run up to 65 MPH with a simple ECM hack that removes any speed limiter and boosts engine power.

          Some people bought a Roxor just to scavenge the axles and other drivetrain bits like the transfer case to swap into an old Jeep. Not only are the parts brand new, they’re a direct bolt in and have even been updated to be better than the old Jeep parts were when new.

      2. Modern cars will happily roll over at low speeds as well if they collide with little overlap at certain angles…this is a good thing, because it means the passenger space is not a crumple zone :P

    4. Work in the Suame Magazine automotive industrial zone in Kumasi, Ghana suggests that a combination of vehicle localization along with very focused electronics trade schooling will keep these vehicles running. The value of a vehicle in Ghana is so high, that it has long weighed the repair/replace decision in favor of repair. I don’t see this changing in the foreseeable future.

      In Ghana’s case, the challenge of adapting to the increasing reliance by OEMs on automotive electronics has lead the national government to introduce several electronics training programs to supplement traditional mechanical apprenticeship training. I suspect the combination of training and adaptation will lead to a vast array of repair workarounds, similar to those we periodically see within Hackaday.

      1. Ugh, 38 yo me wants to send teenage-me to Ghana boarding school as a tradesman’s apprentice just from me being someone who only relatively recently took on the Dr. Frankenstein approach towards reverse engineering and/or mutilating any and all things I own for maximum utility.

    5. Well many of us in The USA,have to purchase use cars, rather than new ones. In the past, when I found a car with fewer than 30,000 miles, for less than $5,000 I purchase it if it fit my needs. That is in the pat, because such vehicle don’t exist. now.

  6. VW tied some simple features to its server in its prior EV models, in particular the timed start for charging and HVAC. (For those with off-peak electric rates for charging, and to preheat/cool the vehicle using grid rather than battery power). They also used 3g cell connections. The results are obvious, and so far, they have no plans for hardware updates to existing vehicles.

    I can accept that non scheduled remote control of HVAC needs a phone connection, but there is absolutely no reason to do a simple timer that way.

    Oh yea, it would be more accurate to say that the first N years are included in the purchase price, the service was never “free”, it just wasn’t billed separately.

    Oh yea, in VW’s case, while the remote service included with the car, was just that, once the prepaid time was up, they bundled it with their roadside service package. Attempts to purchase just the online portion were refused.

    1. In Sweden the phrase “Get it for Free” is most often illegal unless it is actually free.

      Buying something else to get something for “free” isn’t free of charge, and therefor the phrase “for free” is false advertising. We instead use the phrase “på köpet” or literally “as part of the purchase” or “on the buy”.

      1. Smarter chargers (EVSE) control when the vehicle can charge. This enforces charging when I desire, even though the vehicle is set to begin charging immediately. But this is off topic.

        I enjoy being able to precondition my car before I leave the house, while powered from the charger. That requires my key fob to be in close proximity to the car. If that can fail due to “subscription failures” I’d ask if the option for a simple key is available at the time of purchase.

        I also enjoy preconditioning my car before I leave my office desk. That requires a remote connection via desk computer or cell phone. I might be willing to pay $50/YEAR ($30/month is outrageous for what’s being offered.)

      2. The J-1772 interface (US (and others?) L2 charger) provides communications between the EVSE (charger) and the car via a pilot tone. The car will not charge if that tone is not present. A very small relay in that circuit will control when the car can charge.

      3. My EVSE also includes a timer.

        The thing I miss is the preheat/pre-cool timed start. Basically you set a timer for when you plan to leave, and it runs the HVAC, using grid power rather than your batteries. It’s real nice in summer, when the car has been sitting in the sun for hours. You hear a whir when you walk up, and when you open the door, you aren’t facing a wave of hot air, and can sit down in shorts, without getting the stitching pattern branded into the back of your thighs. It’s so nice, I sometimes did it even when it had to use the batteries instead of the grid.

  7. I don’t know about the rest of you but I don’t want any internet connected technology in my car. Seriously, immediately disable that stuff because we all know it’s not secure.

    1. Gravis said “I don’t know about the rest of you but I don’t want any internet connected technology in my car. Seriously, immediately disable that stuff because we all know it’s not secure.” I totally agree – and increasingly, there’s no viable choice when it comes to new-car purchases. As I understand it, if you disable your car’s internet connection, the manufacturer can’t do software updates unless you take your car to the dealer.

      But you might not go to the dealer because you may not know about the update. Since a lack of updates (and the fact that you have modified your vehicle) would be cause for warranty termination, there goes the warranty. If a case for an accident or injury caused by lack of updates can be made, then there goes manufacturer liability too – a liability which would then fall on the owner.

      Earlier I used the phrase ‘viable choice’, but I think the ‘viable’ either is or will soon be irrelevant. At some point newer cars will require internet connections in order to maintain even basic functionality.

      Also, think about some of the ramifications of this ‘manufacturer effectively maintains control’ model. Had an accident because your car malfunctioned? Suing the manufacturer? One simple OTA update and a little record-keeping legerdemain and, presto-changeo, there goes your case – you’re on the hook. Same name as somebody the cops are looking for? The manufacturer conveniently bricks your car by mistake, And on and on and on.

      This is a very bad development and is yet another example of how corporations are doing their best to restore feudalism.

        1. I’ve had a recall done because the infotainment screen didn’t boot fast enough or sometimes was slow, because it was considered safety critical due to showing the mandated backup camera display. Governments can still make companies do things.

    1. iPhones can do that for free. “Hey Siri, where’s my wife?” And without breaking privacy – Apple don’t even know themselves, only your other devices on the same Apple ID can decrypt the location.
      Samsung also have a similar thing I believe, though without the privacy – Samsung know where you are.

    2. Nononono… Not ‘track your spouse’. That could be seen as illegal. Nope.

      But “Track your Teen(TM)” or “Eldercare Silver Edition” sounds virtuous and almost obligatory unless you don’t really love your family you horrible ingrate who could afford it easily!

    3. Google already allows you to turn on family location sharing, so you can share your location with people in a “family” group you set up. My parents turned it on when we were driving to vacation (separate vehicles) and never turned it off, and it’s accurate enough that when zooming in on google maps I can tell what part of their house they are in.

      1. I turned on family sharing. I keep getting messages from google “are you sure you want to share your location with your spouse”? What I want to know is why I don’t get the same warning emails from google asking “are you sure you want us to continue tracking you 24/7”?

  8. Unfortunately the conversion of the industry to electric cars is a golden opportunity to change the paradigm across the board. Every manufacturer will get onboard and there will be nothing we can do.

    except hack :-) I can’t imagine it would be that hard to bring the heated seats and steering wheel up, unless the ECU notices the change and disables the car. But then the doctrine of first sale comes into play.

    These will be interesting times.

    For the record I had no idea my 2021 toyota had remote start and when I tried it it didn’t work anyway, so I have lost nothing.

    1. EVs are fundamentally simpler than ICEs. The drive train is basically just a motor, a motor controller, and a battery. These are all readily DIY and hackable. This community is particularly well suited to figure out how they work, and then find ways to modify or defeat the automaker’s programming to do your bidding.

      Personally, I’ve been building and driving my own EVs since the 1970’s. Today’s automaker-EVs are providing a gold mine of motors, controllers, chargers, batteries etc. that can all be hacked to work any way you like. The internet is full of how-to examples.

      A whole new “hot rod” movement is evolving, to convert older cars into EVs by re-using motors, controllers, and batteries from scrapped or crashed EVs.

      1. Are you not concerned about the powers that be making any sort of customized vehicle illegal to operate on public roads? I’ve already read proposals that “we” need to get all cars talking to infrastructure to enable driverless cars and efficiency proposing measures.

        1. I’m in the US. There is no sign (yet) of the government banning home-built cars from the road. There are rules they must follow, and a procedure for licensing them; but it’s not onerous. I’ve done it twice now (once in Michigan, once in Minnesota — each state is different).

          I’m sure every country has its own set of rules, ranging from “easy” to “impossible”. But I have friends in Canada and the UK that have built their own cars; so it’s possible.

          There is also the “escape route” of converting an existing car, so you don’t have to re-title it as “new”.

      2. well put,an EV could be literaly hot wired, battery ,wire, motor….
        Boshe is now mass producing silicone carbide mosfets, huge power handlng and super efficient.
        yank all that fussy phone home precious stock controllers and
        roll your own

        1. Without good knowledge and experience the best MOSFETs will become sparks and smoke at these power levels. Get the switching times wrong? New set of MOSFETs! miscalculate transients and their absorption? Need another new set of MOSFETs…

      3. Quote: [ … and then find ways to modify]

        Manufacturers are even better at finding ways to modify a system to that any further modification is illegal as it upsets an un-nessesarlty integrated safety feature.

      4. And this is a dilemma for most US car dealers. Currently they make the bulk of their money in the service bays, not on the showroom floor. Right now they can expect the car to visit twice a year, where highly trained service writers can sell the owner something they don’t need yet. (One local Toyota dealer had model specific extra services, “for improved reliability”. One I was amused by was a recommendation for a power steering fluid change every 30k miles. On a model that had electric power steering.)

        An EV requires minimal preventative maintenance. No lubricants or filters to change, etc. (on my VW EV, the service interval is two years, and the only scheduled parts replacements, are an inverter coolant flush, and a cabin filter replacement, both every six years or 100,000 km.

  9. Personally I think “as a service” has its pros and cons.

    It is largely a question of ownership, if one just leases/rents the hardware, then a fee for various features is “okay”.

    But if one buys the hardware, then it is a different story. The device maker might though argue that one haven’t “bought” the firmware, not that this matters.

    When it comes to software I personally tend to follow the “moral compass” that is:

    1. If the firmware/software is in the device, then one as a user should have the full right to use it as intended. (For an example, the firmware on a network card isn’t “owned” by the end user, but the end user for sure wouldn’t pay any subscription fees for it….)

    2. If there is an arbitrary software limit to the functionality, but the software is technically there, then I at least thinks the company providing the solution did wrong on their part.

    2.a For an example, if a PCB CAD tool’s “RF design suite” is 400$/month as an optional extra, then don’t pack that binary into every copy of the program… In short, don’t provide software for free if you want to sell it or provide it as a subscription service. (Don’t provide a binary with a license that states “You can’t use this unless you pay for the subscription service or the one time fee”, one can likewise place a 100$ bill on the bus with a sticky note saying “don’t steal, this belongs to X company”.) (another added bonus of not including “licensed legally unusable garbage” is that downloading the software will become much faster, not to mention use less storage space.)

    2.b Another example is when there is just some value restricting the functionality, yet again PCB CAD tools are a good example, some limits the max layer count that one can work with by a simple integer in the config file. (Paying to have 1 single value changed is a bit brave… Also why is kicad limited to only 32 copper layers? (I know 32 layers is huge, but 255 would be way more logical from a software perspective, just like the max board size is 2147.483648 mm in each direction (Since it is a 32 bit integer, and the negative numbers are apparently “unusable”.)))

    But how about hardware then?
    If a company provided the hardware, then they have provided the hardware. As long as it isn’t rented/leased, you should be legally fine to do whatever you want with it unless it is legally considered to endanger others around you. (And yes that is excessively oversimplified.)

    So subscription services works in hardware for things that are:

    A. pure software features. (on the PC side of things this would be our regular slew of programs.)

    B. stuff that isn’t intrinsically part of the hardware itself. (External communication (Internet), and subscription services like music, video, weather/congestion information, etc..)

    While subscription services doesn’t really work that well for stuff that just should work. (here we come back to the arbitrary software limits of 2.b above.) An exceptionally good example here would be the Mercedes-Benz rear-wheel steering being arbitrarily limited to less than half its range. (I can accept if the range needs to be limited for pure safety/mechanical reasons, but that argument falls flat on its face if one can just pay to get more range…)

    Likewise paying for options that are part of the device already is also somewhat bogus.
    We can look at oscilloscopes that for the longest time have had various versions with optional extras like more memory, faster sampling rates, more bandwidth, etc. But it is almost always software limits, and honestly, sometimes it is nice to “downgrade” a scope to its lower bandwidth as a nice hardware filter, but that feature is rarely an option even if one bought “the best” options available.

    In the end.
    I personally think that if one provided the hardware and/or software, then the end user should have the right to use it. With the exception to leased/rented products.

    I should probably also add that the big advantage of “as a service” (outside of recurring payments for infrastructure upkeep), is that one knows that someone takes on full responsibility over fixing any flaws or issues in the thing provided, and that technical support should likewise be provided. (For “free software” one usually only have the wills and desires of whatever community is maintaining said software, there is no real contractual obligations for support nor upkeep.)

    1. Although the hardware is physically in your car, you haven’t payed for it, that’s why you can’t use it: it isn’t yours. If you accept to pay the monthly/yearly fees, they rent that hardware and you can use it.

      Now here it comes the interesting part: if I’m not paying the fee and I can’t use it… why do I have to store goods from the car manufacturer in MY car? Those elements add weight (like the seat heaters), which means an extra fuel consumption and, thus, cost money to me. I should be able to ask a fee to the manufacturer for using MY car as a storage place for its unused items :-D

      1. I would argue that if one gets something as part of a purchase that one then owns that thing, unless the thing is removed from the item before hand. (point 2.a in my first comment.)

        The thing brought along might to lack necessary firmware to “work”, but the hardware is still sold to the end user if it is part of the car.

        If it can’t “trivially” be removed by the end user and returned to the company, then it isn’t a separate item that can have its own license in regards to ownership. (I will though have to make an exception to software, but that is a different can of worms in this case.)

      2. Also, if you are”renting” the seat heater and it fails, shouldn’t the company renting it to you pay for repair? Or, at least reimburse the unused portion of the “rental”?

    2. Gating features on an additional payment or subscription can make sense. E.G. Fusion360 is free, but 4+ axis requires a sub. Makes sense – very few hackers are using 4-axis (I say that having built one myself), so it limits the more “commercial” features to paying users, rather than using honesty that commercial users do indeed pay.

      Similarly for MHz limits on scopes; I get that.

      Sure, there’s always a few of us pushing beyond the limits of “commercial” features, but to be honest, for 90% of us, it works and means everyone benefits from the company only making/maintaining one type of hardware/software.

      A local engineering firm has a massive CNC tool-changer, from which they “buy” (unlock) tools when they need them. Yes, they’re already in the machine, but it means they can get new tools in seconds instead of days. Makes sense for them.

      But with cars we’re not used to subscriptions, and we’re not seeing the initial purchase price drop. And it’s not “flexibility” to pay for 12m of heated seats when you only want them for 2m.

      1. As stated, there is pros and cons to things as a service.

        Though, a lot of the things that are included as a service aren’t things one would only pay for the moment when one needs it. Changing subscriptions is an extra hassle on the end user, and license terms will usually screw them over regardless, since new subscription means new terms, and that is going to slide to the manufacturer’s advantage.

        In regards to tool changers on CNC machines, having tools sitting there that one “don’t own” just means that they are more expensive overall, since one will be paying for said tool regardless. Same thing goes for locked away features in other products.

        The argument that “everyone benefits from the company only making/maintaining one type of hardware/software.” is only partly true.

        Hardware can be diced into logical segments where one don’t have to maintain each product as a whole, but rather as a collection of parts/designs.

        For an example, R&S uses the same front panel on a lot of their bench products, it has the same core software and the same base features for all products that use it. This means that they only have to maintain that one part for all products that use it. Even if the various products themselves have wildly different things within, a multimeter after all is far different than a power supply or frequency counter.

        A lot of product upkeep is generally about having a competent foundation to build the various products on. Extra features can be maintained in isolation of each other. This means that one don’t have 50+ products in need of individualized upkeep, but rather 50+ selections of a smaller subset of parts/designs. Making generational jumps forth can though be required depending on how the various parts/designs are designed to integrate with each other.

        I should also clarify that when I say “parts/designs” I don’t mean an item on a shelf, it could be, but it could also be a schematic or other design that can be integrated into a larger more product specific part. How to exactly slice up a given product stack is a very debatable topic.

        1. HP did something like this with at least one series of multifunction printer/scanners. Part of the customer setup was installing the plastic cover onto the control panel. I noticed that one edge of it had several tabs, and there were more notches in the housing than there were tabs on the control panel cover.

          A bit of online research turned up that the only differences between all the models of that product line were the model number printed on the housing, and the number and position of the tabs on the control panel cover. Behind the slots was a row of sensors to enable/disable various features. That set the model number to be communicated to the driver setup so it would install the software version to match what the control panel cover set the printer to be.

          So if one could figure out which tab pattern corresponded to the best model of the printer line, it would be simple to make a ‘shim’ to slide in underneath the control panel cover edge to upgrade the printer from cheapest to most expensive model.

      2. Tool changers on CNC machines are mostly included hardware. Having a 6-axis Lathe with live tooling wouldn’t make much sense if the ability to change tools wasn’t available. And I cannot think of any manufacturing company paying for a brand new CNC machine which would come with certain tools preloaded but only available as premium value features. What happens when the new inexperienced CNC operator takes the new tool out for a test drive and crashes the damn thing into the table or the headstock? Game over, cannot replace? Lol, not bloody likely! Also, FYI utilitlizing different tools on CNC machines isn’t some magical automatic process by only calling for that tool in the program (at least not the 1st time out of the gate). Each tool must be measured in many ways and defined in the offsets, otherwise how does the machine know what is has in its collet? It doesn’t know until you tell it what it has and what size/shape the tool may be. if your local engineering firm owns such a machine, then they are fools for having purchased such a ridiculous eurolized pile of crap! Not in my country, not in my world…

        1. I too think the concept of having “tools you don’t yet own” in a tool changer in a CNC machine, seems like a very odd place to have them.

          Last I checked, tool changers are usually more expensive if they hold more tools, so surely one don’t want to buy a huge one with preloaded tools one don’t yet own that only occupy that precious space that one could use for one’s actual tools…

      3. And before that, some tool dealers would offer high volume customers the option of the supplier setting up an on-site distribution site. Customer would provide a space and a list of consumable items. The supplier would keep local inventory of those items. Employees could get replacement inserts, etc, on an as needed basis by just walking up to the counter and asking. At which point the supplier would bill for it.

    3. For PC apps, there can be a thing as a subscription service. As long as you’re subscription is paid up, you get all the upgrades, and all the help support. If your subscription ends, you no longer get the updates, nor do you have access to help functions. In this case, the subscription gets you ongoing development and support.

      In a car, that model doesn’t work so well with most manufacturers. How often are firmware updates rolled out to cars? (Tesla does this routinely. Is there some subscription in play? Who else?) Generally, this happens only when a customer demands a repair, warranty work, or there is a recall the manufacturer couldn’t avoid. Updates to the hardware usually occur at the same time. Hardware and firmware updates have to happen at the dealers, which many consider overpriced.

      I also watched a video showing how to repair the tail-light assembly for a limited edition car. Repairing A Cadillac XLR Tail Light
      The manufacturer no longer makes the limited edition car, or the assemblies that made it “limited edition”. The manufacturer still sells the parts as old new stock, at 20X original price. The video shows how to repair the assembly by replacing the failed LEDs or controller board (still in production for various current vehicles) by opening up the sealed assembly. If you’re paying a subscription on the vehicle, the manufacturer had dam well be able to provide repair parts at reasonable prices.

      1. For software that is “as a service” one shouldn’t expect anything less than quick (sub hour) 24/7 year round support and ongoing updates for various new features.

        Bug fixes and basic support (might take a day or two) should however still exist for anyone using the software in general. (if the licensing model follows the “you still retain your copy if you don’t pay for the subscription” that some companies follows for programs running locally on the end user’s machine.)

        For cars, and a lot of other hardware that whole model starts becoming a bit odd. (Personal opinion, all these “as a service” things makes me wonder when the “right to repair” legislation gets a friend by the name of “right to own.”)

        Then there is the “limited edition”, I can agree that selling “new old stock” at 20x original value is a bit brave of the manufacturer, especially if the parts the spare part is made of isn’t particularly unique. But I can see reason for a higher price since the item isn’t something the manufacturer nor their parts distributors would handle regularly. (unless it is the same exact part but with a different part number.)

  10. I can’t wait until the rent AI addons as a service.
    salesman/woman: ‘With this brand new AI addon called “You and your family first”, the AI will choose to plough through children, nuns, you name it anybody or anything at all if that is what is required for the driver and passengers to survive a potentially lethal failure or a crash (possibly caused by other vehicles hitting your).’

  11. SCAAS: Stupid crap as a service.

    1. Remote start a car – Nope. The motor ain’t runnin’ if I ain’t sittin’ in the driver’s seat. I see no earthly need to start the motor of a car if I’m not in it.
    2. GPS – I use a separate navigation device. The middle console displays in the cars are useless – I need to see the map as I’m driving. Europe has these ingenious intersections with multiple converging roads. More like half an asterisk than a T intersection. “Turn right” – which of the three streets on the right in the next 100 feet do you mean? You’ve got to be able to look and see which street is the correct one.
    3. Timed charging start – Internet acces for that? Seriously? Just use the buillt in clock, ffs.

    I’m all for electronics that make cars less polluting. I’m not in favor of stupid crap that exists just because it is possible.


    On the subject of “less polluting”:

    The manufacturers need to implement a “put the spurs to it” mode on the throttle.

    All the cars I’ve driven in the last few years try to avoid polluting in those (rare) cases when I stomp on the accelerator. This results in hesitation – it takes a second or so for the engine to actually speed up.

    It happens that some dweeb is speeding on a curvy city street when I’m trying to pull out onto the road. Despite mirrors (placed on the roads so that you can see if someone is coming around a curve) and looking carefully and waiting for a safe moment, you do occasionally pull out on the road and only then discover that some yahoo is just behind the curve. The only thing to do is to stomp the accelerator and get moving – and then the ECU says “hang on, gotta change the motor settings.” It’s no fun sitting there with the accelerator pressed to the floor, some rowdy bearing down on you at what looks like 300 miles an hour, and the ECU going “can’t pollute.”

    I don’t stomp the accelerator unless it is an emergency – when I stomp it, I by god mean move it, not think about it and maybe get to it next week.

    1. This is a good point. I had an old diesel Camry with this problem due to turbo lag. Now I have the opposite problem: The EV has so much torque at 0 RPM that the unweighted tire loses traction through the open differential when booting it out of a junction even in dry conditions on a good surface. I have to feather the pedal until the car is pointed straight before putting the rest of the power down.

      1. Your EV is badly designed. Limited-slip differentials have been around for decades, and traction control systems, too. Pure electric drivetrains should handle this by default.

        1. a limited slip diff on a EVs? The ones with literally over an order of magnitude the peak torque from a complete stop compared to ICE cars?
          The ones based on friction materials would need service all the time and the geometry ones (torsen and alike) would need to be chonky to survive…

          1. Ideally, the limited-slip function in an EV would happen at the motor controller. Electronic sensing and control can happen in milliseconds and thus multiple measurements and adjustments per wheel rotation. This already works on everything from power saws to CNC machines to manufacturing equipment.

            Even if only mechanical LSDs or brake torque control were available, “but it’s difficult” is not an excuse for failure, nor protection from liability – not for hackers and certainly not for manufacturers.

            There’s no excuse for a modern computer-controlled electric cars to ever accidentally exceed available traction.

          2. Using the motor controller is ideal, but most EVs don’t have a motor for each wheel – they still use a differential, either LS or not. And if you don’t want to have massive motors as unsprung weight, you still have to have CV joints between the motors and the wheels. Everything in engineering is compromise.

      2. I had a non-turbo Datsun diesel in the past. Very sluggish.
        I learned to be patient. If I was intending to pull onto a city street, and an approaching car was less than a block and a half away, I waited until it passed.

        1. On very cold Winter days in North Dakota(~-20°F), I would leave the engine running while attending Mass, because an electric outlet was not available and necessary for starting it.

  12. “1. Remote start a car – Nope. The motor ain’t runnin’ if I ain’t sittin’ in the driver’s seat. I see no earthly need to start the motor of a car if I’m not in it.”

    Tell me you don’t live in Alaska without telling me you don’t live in Alaska.

      1. I guess it’s a NA vs Europe thing. NA have no (or little) issues with having cold cars idling simply to heat the motor, fuel is cheap after all. In Europe, block heaters – either electrical plugged into a wall socket, or fuel based are the thing (in colder climates anyway). In Sweden at least, cities will specify time limits for idling, say 30s or 1 minute.

        1. I’ve noticed that engine blocks do not have “frost plugs” anymore.
          So adding a frost plug block heater is not possible, nor is it possible/ practical to add a “tank heater” (heats engine coolant and pushes it through the engine block and heater core).
          But since I “only” live in Minnesota, and use synthetic oil, remote starting is a gas wasting luxury.

          1. Those things are actually core plugs, they offer minimal protection should things freeze. They are a required part of the casting process. To get the various passages for water jackets, you add a “core” to the mold. This is a shaped and bound bit of sand. It gets supported by protrusions from the core to the outer mold. They leave a hole behind after they shake all the sand out of the mold. Those capped holes are what got incorrectly dubbed freeze plugs.

            If they didn’t include them, they wouldn’t have a way to locate the core while casting, nor a way to get the sand out of the cavities after casting.

          2. You could retrofit a coolant thermos from a USA 2004-2009 Prius. It holds 3 liters of coolant and every time the car is shut down an electric pump runs briefly to circulate heated coolant into it. The next time the car is used, and the engine starts, valves to and from the thermos open to pump a slug of still warm coolant into the engine.

            How it could be used as a retrofit is splice it into a heater hose with a pair of electric valves that open when the car is started. Hot coolant would continuously flow through the thermos, then when the car is shut off, the valves close, trapping hot coolant inside. Stays warm for at least a couple of days.

    1. The Acura I just bought has remote start, but they dont tell you it wont run for more than 5 minutes. Not extremely useful when its -30, in fact its pretty goddamn pointless. If the dealer demanded an extra fee for that, I’d put the car through their storefront.

  13. i think the biggest problem is still that cars tend to be in service way longer than any electronic trend.
    an age of 10 or 20 years is common, or even longer.
    are the manufacurers going to maintain the software, security updates and services for that long ?
    and if not, most cars will lose all their features or be driving security risks.

    I think most people don’t realise how fast technologie evolves.
    A 15 to 20 year old car might still be ok to drive, but imagine the computers back in that time.
    Smartphones were just getting started.

    Now image the current cars in 15 years.
    The 3G network going out of service is just one example.
    Features like Android Auto or Apple Carplay are some others.
    Are these going to work for years while smartphones are evolving every year ?
    Car software is usually not updated that often, and even if, the hardware might not be capable enough.

    1. Witness the warranty. Manufacturers lobbied for a ten year maximum.
      Several benefits resulted. No obligation to supply spare parts after 10 years.
      Guaranteed new car sales.
      The truth is, a warranty simply is a limited liability for the company.
      I regret selling every classic car I’ve owned.

    2. Surely it can’t be that hard to make the wireless module modular. As part of your ‘service’ fee, it can be upgraded should the need arise. Seems like Toyota lacked the imagination for this so your smart car became dumb once the 3G net was off.

      1. They could but not likely it ever would be. Mid 2010’s Samsung introduced a line of “Future Proof” Smart TVs. Their electronics were on a owner-replacable module. The stated goal was to provide hardware upgrades for five years, adding support for stuff like new video and audio codecs as they came along.

        That lasted about two years. Then Samsung reneged on their five year “Future Proof” program and announced that they would “Future Proof” their televisions via internet downloaded software updates. In my experience that’s mostly been to remove stuff like Skype and allow Google to break support for wireless keyboards in their YouTube app. Any keyboard I’ve tried works perfectly in all apps that support a keyboard, but for searching in YouTube all I get is gibberish consisting of a + followed by numbers, and some keys on the board do nothing. It’s like they’ve switched to some other country code page, in unicode, and there’s no way to fix it because Google/YouTube refuses to fix it.

        So far, software “Future Proof” seems to last at most two years. Any Samsung Smart TV, software updates for the core OS usually quit when the TV his two years old, while apps, especially 3rd party ones, can continue to get updates, or up-breaks, as long as Samsung doesn’t do something like a major OS change that would require other companies to switch to a new development platform.

        At least it’s not as bad as all those internet capable Blu-Ray players that most of the internet stuff is useless on because companies like YouTube changed their server side stuff, and none of the companies that provided the software for the players bothered to release updates to go along with the new backend stuff.

        I have a 2007 Vizio 22″ 1080p Smart-ish TV that uses software from Yahoo. Amazingly, Vizio still provides updates to the latest firmware for those old TVs, but most of the internet functions no longer work. When I quit using it, Hulu or Vudu would still work (if I had a Hulu or Vudu subscription), so would Yahoo News and Weather, (even the video on Yahoo News worked), Flickr (low resolution images only) and various streaming newsfeeds from around the USA. Netflix, the crappy games, everything else was kaput due to back end server side changes or being shut down. One catch to it was despite being able to login to Yahoo with it, it would only accept passwords up to 16 characters, so since my Yahoo password is longer, I had to jump through some hoops to create a “Device Password” just for the TV.

        So I never used the “Smart” features of it beyond getting it to work, marveling as the crudity of Early Smart TV, then just using it as my PC monitor and occasionally watching OTA TV with its ATSC tuner.

    3. Not in New England, after about 10 or 15 years the cars start failing inspection due to excessive rust. The DPW is generally really excessive about road salt, the upside is the roads are not slick. I say cars should be made super cheap from super cheap materials, easily recycled. There is no solution to the rust problem so treat cars like disposable paper cups.

      1. There is a perfectly good solution to the rust problem in galvanising, aftermarket Land Rover chassis are available to prevent your scabby old LR from collapsing ever again. Of course manufacturers will never do this because it is in their interest to sell you a car that rots away in 12-15 years, otherwise how else would they sell you a new one? Unless you’re one of these oddballs who insists on changing their car every two years, after taking the maximum depreciation hit possible each time…

        1. The expensive Volkswagens are galvanized up to the window sills, same with midrange Audi’s, while the top models are either fully galvanized or aluminum/composite.

          Though you still need to look after it and give the known trouble spots some undercoating, because rocks and road debris love to wear through the zinc layer there.

          But anything bolt-on isn’t, like hood, trunk, doors and front quarterpanels.

          I totally don’t sound like I own and wrench on this type of cars…

          1. even a mk4 golf and platform-related vehicles are completely galvanized, but zinc only corrodes slower…
            My 2001 Renault Laguna is also completely plated, front fenders and rear hatch are plastic with a metal frame and the hood is all aluminium. Unless I wreck it, the plastic bits and aluminium hood will outlast me, but the steel chassis will continue it quest down the entropy height :D

          2. This crude simplification doesn’t work, and the industry already does 100 times better than what you’re suggesting. Also keep in mind people thing service intervals are “oil changes” and most can’t even get those right. Let alone take care of the paint on their car.

            So long story to clear the air about “galvanizing” and how that’s at least the wrong term. Aluminum isn’t an answer too. It corrodes too, just differently, but it’s hard transparent rust layer that encapsulated ALL aluminum items isn’t hideous like steels and irons.

            14 Years ago I worked in the most advanced paint shop in the world — because it was the newest at the time but also built to stringent emissions regulations from multiple countries due to being part of their world plant design reuse targets. It was also the #1 first run quality plant in ALL North America earning multiple JD power founders awards. In fact it was two plants ran side by side which enabled testing cars in a new process by diverting 1/10/100/1500 cars at a time to the new process.

            Every single car for the last 30+ years goes through a electroplating “paint” process where the whole car (including the roof of your VW’s) is submerged through a process of baths while current is ran into the car to adhere the “paint”. Galvanizing is plating in zinc. You don’t want that because it leaves a hideous lumpy finish and you can’t sand it because it gums up. Go look at a nail. The laymen people called it paint or ELPO but it wasn’t paint or some basic plating. It was designed for chemical adhesion, impact, pitting, depth of throw into cavity’s (an issue with electroplating processes). As there are only a few suppliers of these plating chemicals they are closely guarded secrets — maybe some zinc in it, maybe some titanium oxides, maybe something else. But it was complex chemicals requiring tweaking.

            These processes require 9 – 13 tanks where a whole car frame, sized for a truck in NA, can fit in and transit slowly on a chain line that goes in, soaks while current applied, and leaves, then onto the next. They are huge. They move continuous by a giant chain system so the tanks are long. Each plant did 1500 cars/day and paint shop could do more and had huge buffers. And after each step they were oven baked to seal the paint.

            We were achieving +4 years over any worldwide competitor with that new process. That measurement was based on coating thickness over the next competitive car/company. Basically at the time it was something like anywhere in the world they could warranty for 7 years, this made it they could warranty for 11. I mean they didn’t. But it was just that good. Most plants use a very similar process now.

            VW was years behind this process at the time in 2009. Those cars and subsequent cars show very little rust in some of the worst climate when I see them on the road now.

            As for Aluminum, put in a Aluminum bolt and a lot of things can’t take the load. Put in a steel bolt and you got yourself an electrochemical reaction that eats Aluminum if it gets any salty water on it ANYWHERE. This is a common Northern US / Canada / Northern Europe issue. Aluminum stop sing post, steel bolts in the base, after years of rain or snow the aluminum is corroded and it falls over.

  14. Yeah, so any auto makers out there that haven’t drunk the Kool Aid? I have an ’06 Accord that still runs fine, but there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to become a home mechanic on top of everything else. One day, she will be scrap, and then what? Buy a 20-year-old car without a cell modem? Suck it up and buy a SAAS car? Or become a home mechanic enough to hack the SAAS car anyway?

  15. “car as a service” sounds great to me, let someone else deal with maintenance and obsolescence. Life is way too short to spend it dealing with this crap. I don’t own the airplane or the subway car or the bus either.

    1. That already exists in a “not fleecing the customer” way.
      It’s called “Leasing” in regards to ownership, and “service contract” regarding maintenance and repair.
      Granted there’s some legalese involved and sorting out the bad apples, but it makes it modular and flexible enough that there’s (gasp) competition, which leads to better prices for the end user.

      This shit WILL lead to you getting bled dry in the name of maximizing the profit for the company on your behalf.

      But I guess this is what happens when there’s a large chunk of people who has a driver’s license that don’t wanna put any thought into actual car ownership.

      1. Leasing means you are still responsible for repairs and they cap your miles. I want service like a taxi, pay for what you use.

        “putting thought into car ownership” === “slave to your car” when you say the car must control my thoughts.

        I have a whole house full of appliances and food and clothing and I don’t let any of those things rule my life, why do I need to change to accommodate a 4000 pound chunk of metal that will die in a few years.

        1. I’ve never had a lease in which I was responsible for repairs. By the nature of the lease, the vehicle will still be within its original warranty during the time you have it, so any issues would be covered and you’ll almost certainly be given a loaner from the dealership while your vehicle is being worked on.

          Unless by “responsible” you literally mean you don’t want to have to take it back to the dealer if there’s an issue with it.

          1. Yeah, the whole point of leasing contracts with service and repair bundled in, is that there’s no hidden surprises or commitment apart from a monthly fixed bill and the period of the lease.
            There’s a reason it’s heavily targeted the crowd that’d stuff their ass into their washing machine if it could drive them to the grocery store and work.

          2. The whole point of bundling in repairs, is that you can charge more than the repairs will ever cost, and take advantage of people’s fears about uncertainty. Service contracts are the most lucrative part of the auto industry.

  16. Do you want poor or mechanically savvy people to keep on driving the equivalent of a 1993 Toyota Camry despite the push for EV’s?
    Because “Car Equipment As A Service” will make poor or mechanically savvy people keep on driving the equivalent of a 1993 Toyota Camry.

      1. While Toyota’s rust, they rust predictably.
        Which means every bumblefuck mechanic capable of holding a hot glue gun for metal know exactly when, where and how to deal with it.
        It’s why they’re still around, because they’re good value for owners, unlike modern cars.

  17. What they’re doing is turning cars into CDs.

    For the younger players, back in the 1980s and ’90s software was mostly distributed on CDs. There were big legal arguments over whether you were paying $500 for a circle of plastic or some nebulous form of access to the data written on the CD, which still belonged to the publisher. In parallel with that, market forces made one thing crystal clear: the minute a publisher announced the end of development and/or support for the data, that $500 CD would go into the $5-$10 bargain bin.

    In the software market, almost all of a product’s value is tied to the the promise of future support.

    Auto manufacturers and companies like John Deere haven’t learned that yet. They think their piles of engineered metal, and their institutional knowledge associated with designing and building piles of engineered metal, have some kind of value. But as soon as they lock the pile of metal’s utility behind a software license or subscription fee, that stops being true. The pile of metal becomes a CD.. a delivery medium for the software/subscription. When software support ends, the pile of metal loses almost all of its resale value.

    In suit-speak, they’re devaluing their core competencies to become second-rate software houses.

    The Toyota keyfob example mentioned above will have a short shelf-life. Anyone who tries to sell the car after three years will want to hide the feature.. it increases the car’s total cost of ownership and gives potential buyers a reason to ask for a lower resale price. First-time buyers who keep the car for more than three years will have to weigh the utility of the feature with the knowledge that they’re paying for something they’ll never recover in resale or trade-in value.

    And as we’ve seen many times already, software-as-a-service companies tend to end support with all the grace of a compost heap falling down a flight of stairs. Most of them can get away with it because they only have on product, and no reputation left to trash after they drop support. Car companies have an ongoing reputation to look after, so their handling of one sunset will carry over to all their other vehicles.

    1. A few years ago, I was given what would have been a quite nifty piece of computer equipment. I took it home, sat down at my PC to look it up online and found out *that very day* the manufacturer had EOL’ed the product and completely wiped all information and software about it from their website, other than a notice about it being EOL that day.

      They’d even got to the Web Archive to have them delete all their archived copies of the user manual and supporting software. Any other site that had had a local copy rather than a link back to the now gone manufacturer page was also eliminated.

      That company had gone to extreme lengths to ensure that anyone who didn’t already have the software for their product was not going to be able to use it.

      Pissed me off so much I tossed it into the dumpster and within a week or two I’d forgotten what the thing was or who made it.

      “Piss off! Buy our new product instead!” is NOT how to inspire brand loyalty.

      Same thing happened when I got some thin clients that had to boot off a server. The company had carefully scraped the web clean of the software for the product and only left online one page about its features. The list of available optional hardware upgrades for inside the units was in an image, and they’d deleted that image file. For the Web of the time they would’ve been ideal to use in an internet cafe, but not without the software. Their response when asked if I could buy a copy of the software, or even be told the list of hardware options was essentially “Piss off! Buy our newest thin client model!”. No way, not when they won’t provide the capability to use their old one, even if they won’t provide any support beyond here’s the old software and manual, use at your own risk.

      The most insane reason I was ever given for not providing ANY information for a product beyond admitting they’d made a thing with that specific model number was a CRT monitor. I wanted to know the supported resolutions scan rates, etc. They took that information off their website “Because someone might want to buy one.” Guess what? You just “sold” me on NEVER buying any of your monitors.

      1. Look up the CEO’s name and contact details online. Send a real old fashioned letter in the mail, outlining why you will never buy from them again. Will it help? Maybe not, but if enough people do it, maybe it will! It certainly can’t hurt, and at least you’ll feel like you’ve DONE something.

    1. Your youthful optimism is showing.
      Because no artificial intelligence will ever counter real stupidity.
      And who do you think made the artificial intelligence?
      Stupid and unpredictable humans…

    2. No!
      I want my own car, in which I also can leave some of my stuff until I need it again or prepare it for a vacation trip in advance. Not just different flavors of public transportation.
      Although I would not mind a possibility for it be able to do autonomous self driving, if I do not like or are not able to drive (e.g. too tired).

    1. Oh yeah, it is the drive train or suspension attachments that will determine if a vehicle is uneconomical to repair. And for the determined, those are surmountable.

    1. Owning something gives people sense of security, it does not really matter if it is your computer, house, car or clothes. And when you are taking it away, you are basically dismantling ground on which they stands on.

    2. Or maybe, Juuuust maybe, they both consider it a tool which must be end-user serviceable, cheap to service/repair, and affordable to buy, AND once user freedom has been revoked by big business, you can forget everything about getting it back because they now gained a additional avenue to nickel and dime your ass, like what John Deere’s been up to with farmers.

  18. I am waiting for the spiritual successor (EV or otherwise) to the Model T and VW Beatle. Cheep, easy to fix, modifiable and with the bare essentials technology wise. The kind of car where you can fix it with a handful of tools and a weekend. The kind of car where you aren’t worried about paying a service for remote start, you buy a kit off of E-bay and install it yourself.

    1. S o true EV’s aren’t going to make it mainstream, unless a Henry Ford of E Vs appears. I pretty sure Elon Musk isn’t interested. He want is wanted his fortune fast, and wants it to grow any faster I really doubt there can be that spiritual successor, to the Model T, and VW. That’s going to technical evolution, similar to those times in history.

  19. I like what the Japanese do, the cost of vehicle inspection rises exponentially with the age of the car so after a few years it’s cheaper to just get a new car. Keeps those old unsafe clunkers off the road and makes it safer for everyone. The road is a shared resource, everyone has to be safe.

    Have you lost a loved one to a car accident? It puts a big crater in the family that never heals. You don’t want to go there. Be safe for the sake of those who love you, get a safe car and drive it carefully. Don’t think that your above average driving skills will save you when a drunk driver hits you.

    1. Sounds like something vehicle manufacturers lobbied for and sold to people that it’s “for your safety.” I’ll stick to driving my non new vehicles and not be in a mountain of debt.

    2. In the UK we have an annual inspection which “keeps those old unsafe clunkers off the road”. The system you describe sounds as if it is run for no-one’s benefit other than the car manufacturers.

      1. Indeed. “Those old unsafe clunkers” is how the auto manufacturers want people and lawmakers to think about three year old cars. Why should the cost of inspection go up? Does it take longer to find problems with older cars? It seems like it would be EASIER to find things wrong with an older car, that required that some action be taken. It would make sense for the cost of repairs to go up, IF the inspections showed increasingly unsafe vehicles, but to just arbitrarily raise the price of inspections is definitely a racket.

  20. I once read a scifi book about a broke private investigator or something who had to argue his way in and out of his apartment with the door-as-a-service. I think the car marketing people read that book also.

    I think it was Dirk Gently’s holistic detective agency by Douglas Adams

      1. That’s ans comparing appless to oranges, not at all like, what this issue is about. Not at all helpful, here. A land lord, of sorts, changing the lock to their propery; isn’t the same, having an owner of property, they paid for having the lockss change

  21. There’s a game you can play with “…as a service”. Just add a random word and check the actual meaning. It screams why “…as a service” is so wrong. Some examples:

    “Sex as a service” is just prostitution or in some cases, marriage.
    “Flying as a service” is stopping your plane from crashing aka blackmail.

  22. In the case of our 2021 Ford Explorer, I just unplugged the TCU module, which keeps the car from phoning home. So far, everything has been working fine. We just don’t get auto Sync updates. I’m fine with that.

    1. My guess is in the future cars will be programmed, to self-disable if the loose communication with mom and dad. The original owner of my pickup had an aftermarket key fob remote system install. Batteries finally gave out and i can’t find the instruction, to pair them to the receiver Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

  23. Only works a few ways. If all the automobile makers are on board, lest one company has features without subscription, I suspect that make will outsell other brands, regardless of brand loyalty if such a thing still exists. Or the consumer is so used to bring in debt, cares little about subscription based anything that one more payment, perhaps on a credit card, makes no difference. I’m leaning towards the latter with the first already in use to some degree. Could be there is a debt cliff somewhere, a number, where if X amount of debt is reached anything added to it is perceived as ‘oh well’. There is a reason why there is so much consumer debt in the US, this subscription auto baloney is right up those alleys. Outrage will subside, subscription will increase, only takes time. Shenanigans work best in small steps. For my part, I’m good as I use a vehicle simply to get from point A to point B and care not for bells and whistles while doing that.

  24. After reading the paper and all the comments, I’m so happy I’ve have never took a driving license, maybe some days bicycles will have such fantastic features (the high end electric gear shifting system seems to be te only future for high end gear shifting, even on HPV (Human Powered Vehicule) bikes), but for now, only cables to pull on springs for changing gears or braking, and I can service my vehicules nearly all by myself, with very few unexpensive tools, or pay not much to people that will handle this with better skills than mines (and get their hands dirty for me).

    Of course, my energy source is far more expensive than gasoline, water, good food, and good wine.

    And I can’t kill anyone else than me, with my vehicules, too slow, too light, and I’m realy happy with that… 2 tons of garbage to displace a 75 kg (make it 200 pound in the US) weight is so ridiculous.

  25. “Automakers will argue that what they’re offering is flexibility. Customers will only have to pay for what they want and need, and they can RENT extra features as and when they want to use them.”


    This has already happened to most pre-2009 GM cars with OnStar with the shutdown of analog cell phone service. The cell module in the original OnStar was simply Ye Olde Motorola BagPhone Innards, with a GPS module connected.

    A select few models made circa 2007-2008 could have their cell module updated to a digital one. All others were SOL.

    There was an article published back then on repurposing the OnStar GPS module. Open the ObsoleteStar box, and yoink the module off its header connector. One had to build a level shifter to make the serial communication work with RC232-C (these days you’d want to make it USB) then there was software to use to switch it over to spewing out standard NMEA data usable by software like Microsoft Streets and Trips.

    I have an old DeLorme Earthnmate GPS dongle which plugs into USB. I checked it out with a USB monitor and with no driver software at all, it’s busily cramming NMEA data at the USB port, interspersed with some proprietary DeLorme stuff in plain text. Yet to use it requires a “USB to RS232” driver, which was only ever made for 32 bit Windows and is now hard to find. What it was, was a crude kludge because DeLorme couldn’t be bothered to make their map software simply work directly with their own USB GPS dongles *that didn’t actually require any drivers*. As long as DeLorme existed as an independent company, they continued to use “serial” connections for the USB GPS dongles they decided they would continue to support.

    With so many of those old DeLorme things out there, why hasn’t anyone written a 64 bit Windows “driver” that just strips the proprietary baloney to pass on the raw NMEA data, usable by any map software that can directly access the USB port via Windows built in interface? Better yet would be a firmware update or other hack to give the DeLorme pucks the Cue: Cat treatment. Like how a simple hack “declawed” the cat to turn it into a standard barcode wand, hack the DeLorme GPS dongles to make them into the bog standard ones they’re likely based on. They’re cheap because they’re mostly useless, unless one wants to setup an old laptop with 32 bit Windows XP and you can find the old driver/kludge/serial port emulator to download.

  26. After reading all this, I’m so happy not to have a driver license, even if I was gifted a boosted engine Autobianchi Abarth for my 18 th birthday many years ago.

    I don’t want to be able to kill anyone but me with my way of transport, Human Powered Vehicle seems to be a good choice until now.

    And I can do nearly all the usual maintenance myself with very cheap tooling, and having it fixed also quite cheaply if I don’t want to get my hands dirty…

    Of course even in the bicycle business they wish to get on the boat, I’ve heard that high grade gear systems are only going to be available with electric gear shifting in a close future, Shimano, Sram and Campagnolo will no more be selling these expensive 11, 12 and 13 speeds cassettes with simple steel cables activating springs in the dérailleur. Of course it’s because its more precise to actuate the thing with a little motor or something, but well, I think I’m gonna buy a spear rear dérailleur for my recumbent.

    People in their cars are in a jail, and they think they’re free, what a fantastic achievement of the advertisement industry 8^}.

    1. You’re saying a lot of things, but you only made me wanna buy a dual sport, big displacement, single cylinder motorcycle for when not hauling things or people with my “dad hatchback”

      1. Years ago on boulder.general someone suggested that to save the world, people should be allowed to own only one vehicle. At the time, I owned a motorcycle (55 mpg), a Datsun pickup (30-40 mpg), and a small SUV (32 mpg)
        I responded, if forced to make that choice, I would choose the most versatile, the SUV, and the environment would suffer during the times the motorcycle would have been adequate.

    1. Well the comment went in al sorts of direction, so few mare can’t hurt. While I may not be the first to come to this conclusion, I’m sure. The biggest threat to capitalism, are the capitalists. I’m not sure what role government would have in this manner. Beyond mandating consumer friendly, readable sales contracts. Perhaps not worth the effort in the USA, wear many wouldn’t bother with that. Sad that, we need to have an attorney meet us at the dealership, to look over the contract. Perhaps the lawyers, are driving all this, more customers for the lawyers. Most likely it’s going to be used care buyers, who will be taken aback When a slimeball used car dealership, claiming something a feature without revealing. In the end nothing, I’m going to sweat, but it’s great to be aware.

  27. The only way out of this is boycotts.

    Refuse to play along.

    Refuse to pay the perpetrators.

    Unless we defend ourselves from the coming techno dystopia they’ll end up owning us like in “The Matrix”

    “You have to pay a fee to keep breathing oxygen . . .”

  28. The only effective solution is to hack and crack the crap out of these features. Repeated security breaches aren’t a good look and you’ll essentially get the luxury model for a base price. Can’t blame people for unlocking their property’s potential.

  29. Really depends on the car design, ohw well it is taken care of, not the vintage. I live in New York. have a 2010 PT Cruiser built in Mexico that began to rust out at the rear wheel wells when less than 3 years old. Chrysler refused to do anything about it because it was not perforated, only surface rust due to poor welds at where the quarter panel is welded to the rest of the car. Local body shop stated entire quarter panel had to be replaced, a part worth $1,500 USD (sounds like alot of uplift to me). The body of my 1995 Ford Thunderbird, a daily driver, is rust free. Look around the facebook Lincoln MKZ group. People reporting massive amounts of door rust and more on 2017 models. MKZ is the same body as the Ford Fusion and based on a Mazda platform.

  30. The issues my family had with GM products of this vintage were not the v6 engine but the transmission unexpectedly dropping into neutral at highway speeds and failing wiring harness in the engine bay. This was for a v6 powered Pontiac Bonneville the same vintage as your Buick.

  31. I would like to add that this kind of principle actually maybe exist for a longer than you expected, ok no disabling features like they do now, but for example I bought used BMW e46 few year ago with no extra equipment it was most basic BMW but after searching and google-ing I found that all cars actually has all extra features ready to go (without equipment itself), so I decide to test it out, I had no board computer, I couldnt see my fuel consumption and other board stuff, bmw who has board computer had to pay many extra money for that feature, the physical difference is in the button which is located on turn signal lever, so I bought turn signal lever with the button, replaced my signal lever, attached pc via OBD connection installed bmw software and literally click “enable” and voila, now I have board computer.. then I thought about auto-cruise, same thing I bough leveler with buttons and voila, its there, same thing for auto headlights (except instead of switch you need bumper with sensors too) and pretty much just like that you can enable all features, but for those models beside software you had to actually buy the equipment and change stuff this today is next level, having everything already built in car but accessible via payed subscriptions.. cant wait to see people crack those “sYsTeMs” and unclock everything for no extra cost in near future.. driving pirate bay lol

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.